After an abysmal year, hotels in the Algarve are now counting the cost of the absolute devastation delivered to hopes for some kind of business for ‘New Year’.
“We truly never imagined restrictions so severe”, AHETA hoteliers’ association boss Elidérico Viegas has admitted.
The government’s total ban on public gatherings of any kind (click here); the 10.30pm curfew for restaurants; the 11pm curfew for everyone ‘out and about’ have put paid to New Year’s Eve as anyone has ever known it.
Of the 400 officially classified hotels in the Algarve, only 80 have bothered to stay open – and almost all of these have very few guests.
2020 has basically brought with it losses to the sector of around €800 million, calculates AHETA – and the months ahead look bleak.
With government measures falling short of AHETA’s proposals, Viegas not only forecasts the ‘loss’ (through redundancies) of ‘highly qualified staff’ but at least four if not five years before business is likely to return to levels enjoyed just a year ago before the horrors of the pandemic descended.
And due to the draconian New Year lockdown, there won’t even be fireworks which some municipalities had hoped to launch – irrespective of the lack of any gathered audience.
All in all, it promises to be the bleakest New Year’s Eve in living memory, followed by three days in which the entire population is ordered to remain in their homes after 1pm.
Meantime the nation’s television stations are focused on the mass-vaccine roll-out ongoing throughout Europe as it is in Portugal with the message that the sooner everyone gets their shot, the sooner we can all go back to normal. This is somewhat simplistic as everything hinges on supply. Pfizer has already had to ‘delay’ its supply of vaccines to Madeira, for example, which was hoping to start vaccinating today, but will now have to wait until at least Thursday.